The cheering news of Bordo women in Jahun Local Government Area (LGA) of Jigawa State who contributed N1000 each to purchase a vehicle to the tune of N1 million for the purpose of conveying pregnant women in that locality to the nearest clinic which is about 29 kilometres has demonstrated that there good Nigerians whose milk of kindness we can all relish. The current health crisis with the many woes associated with it plus human catastrophes such as commercial kidnapping, armed banditry and Boko Haram insurgency have made the Nigerian narrative a sad one. This is in addition to hunger in the land. The extra wahala of struggling to survive has been made worse by the hike in the price of fuel and electricity. Even bakers are threatening to increase the price of bread, the last hope of the common man.
It is in this seeming grim scenario that these heroic amazons decided to do the uncanny. In moral theology, an action may be good but the basic orientation behind it might be evil. To all intent and purposes, both their action and basic orientation is good. Their gallant action should wake a sleeping nation from slumber. One would not know what is going on in the minds of the Counsellor, Local Government Chairman, Members of the State and Federal Parliament as well as the Governor. While it might not be their responsibility to buy cars for individuals, if a basic health care facility was in place, an ambulance or hospital utility vehicle would have been provided to assist women to deliver safely. Does this not shame all the politicians representing this community?
Experience has shown that politicians in Nigeria are saints before elections. They are humble, timid and always on hand to visit the meek and lowly in the locality. Before the polls, they have the phone numbers of almost everyone in the community. More often than not, they would ring and say hello. They would pretend as wolves in sheep clothing and incite the common people against those already in power. At that time, like an animal on heat, they would promise heaven and earth. Their eyes are big enough to see the challenges facing the community which they would pledge to address immediately they are given the mandate.
Immediately the polls are over, they do not only become celebrities but relocate to the state capital, Abuja, Lagos or other choicest cities in Nigeria. After a while, they change their phone digits. Within months, they begin to communicate with members of the community through proxies. Funny enough, although they now wear glasses with which the look at the people in a condescending manner, they lose sight of the problems they once saw clearly. What is more, the constituency allowances meant for projects like the one these exemplary women embarked upon is converted to buying mansions at home and abroad, changing wardrobe and acquiring expensive cars.
Politicians know that our systems of accountability and checks and balances are faulty. Lack of revamping the current electoral law has made the power of recall, a toothless bulldog. This occasions political rascality. It weakens the power of democracy as the electorates are left to lick their wounds. For example, in my community, we have been without electricity for close to sixth months because our transformer developed a fault. Like the Bordo women, the people contributed twice to fix it. Now we are told that it cannot be repaired. Therefore, if we cannot pray for manna from heaven, darkness shall remain our portion. Meanwhile, all efforts to meet our elected representative have proved abortive.
In an article entitled “Self Help: The Albatross of the Nigerian State” which was published in The News Chronicle on 26 August 2020, the writer decried that in our country, people have to painfully pay for almost everything – from basic health care, education to water and electricity, Nigerians have to fend for themselves. In breach of the social contract, it entered with the people, government watches while taxpayers take care of basic needs. What makes the situation even worrisome is that there is no little or no chance for feedback as that is often translated as opposing the system.
Going forward, it is crucial for the electorates to demand accountability from those they gave their mandate to. While that is done, there is nothing that prevents a community from engaging in self-help projects. In the African spirit of Ubuntu, individuals and communities have to be part of the global solution. “Ubuntu is that nebulous concept of common humanity, oneness: humanity, you and me both.” Government is a partnership with requires synergy. To this end, government/private partnership can change the narrative. Like the Jigawa women, people can come together to think of what they can do for their communities. This does not exculpate the government if it fails in its constitutional responsibility of providing basic amenities like water, electricity, education and housing.
Indeed, everywhere the Bordo women story is told, it will be said that they came to the aid of those who need help badly. Malama Halima who led the initiative and her humanitarian friends may not know about Ubuntu but their faith in assisting others constitutes a social gospel. These women have taught us that Nigeria can be great again. Rather than dwelling on what divides and dampens our spirits, we should share stories like these to make the point that sharing our milk of kindness with others has the potency to make the world a better place. We salute their courage and urge other Nigerians to be part of the global solution. Be the change you want to see. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
Fr. Dyikuk is a Lecturer of Mass Communication, University of Jos, Editor – Caritas Newspaper and Convener, Media Team Network Initiative (MTNI), Nigeria.